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About The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923 | View Entire Issue (Sept. 4, 1908)
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SEPTEMBER 4, 1908
ONE DAY AWAY FROM THE WEARY GRIND
Big Lake, Mo., August 23. After
a lover of the rod and reel has spent
an entire summer in wondering
whether he will get a chance among
the moss and the lilypads, it comes
mighty good to get away for even
one day. And when to the one day
off one can make it a day back in
the scenes of his early youth, among
the friends of his earlier days, a ,lot
of the disappointment over a two
weeks' vacation is wiped out.
Big Lake is not a fashionable re
sort. There is no orchestra at the
hotel, a dreBS suit wquld be a curi
osity, and "dressing for dinner" sim
ply means jumping out of the boat,
pulling off your rubber boots, don
ning your shoes, washing your hands
and face and taking a dab at your
hair with the brush and comb. Wear
ing a coat at the table depends alto
gether on the state of the weather.
It was hot here today.
The average angler who writes
and tells of his fishing trip loves to
talk about "my guide." Nothing do
ing in the guide He down here.
"Well, Where's a good place,
John?" is the question the angler
"O, just row down the lake and
drop over close to some of the brush
if you want to fish for croppie,"
answers mine host.
"Yes, if you want to cast for 'em
over there in the lilypads."
That is the extent of the guide
business at this rural resort. And
you do your own rowing, accumulat
ing blisters and an appetite that are
really m-.rvelous. That's half the
fun of fishing, anyhow, for a man of
sedentary habits who often wonders
if he is going to fall a victim to dys
pepsia, and whose manuU labor is
confined to hammering the keys of a
typewriter or grinding away with
the stub of a lead pencil.
Big Lake is not so awfully big,
measured T)y the standard of Mill
Lac, Minnetonka, Lake of the Woods
and Devils Lake. But it is a very
sizeable lake as lakes go in this cen
tral western section, being about
four miles long and between a quar
ter and a half mile wide. Formerly
the Missouri river ran where the
lake now is, but some thirty years
ago that erratic stream wandered a
few miles westward and cut a new
channel, leaving the old bed dry.
Gradually it filled up with water that
seeped through the soil from the
river, and today it is a lake of beau
tifully clear and cool water. Twenty
five years ago the writer fished in
Big Lake, and caught fish galore.
And scarcely a year passed in all that
quarter of a century that he has not
"wet a line" in its water.
O, but it's good to get away from
the grind, even for one day, and
float upon the bosom of a clear lake,
watching alternately the cork and
the fleecy clouds drifting across the
sky, and breathing deep of the air
that is untainted by the smell of
coal smolte; listening to the boom
of the frogs, the singing of the birds
and waiting for the bites that send
a thrill through the blood of the in
All the way down on the train the
expectant angler thought ' of the
copious draughts of fresh country
buttermilk he would have when he
reached Iden's place. After a walk
of two miles down a country lane,
and reaching the farm house hotel
on the lake shore about two hours
after the usual supper time, the
angler's first words were:
"Did you churn today, ma?"
"Yes; why?" came the reply from
the sitting room.
"Will's here and wants some but
termilk." Then Mrs. Iden came to the door
with a sad look upon her face and
"I wish you had told us you were
coming. Wo threw all the butter
milk to the pigs."
Whereupon the expectant angler
walked out into the night and held
communion with the stars.
Let silence like a pall drop over
the unspeakable scene.
Ever hear the story of the man
noted for his profanity? Ho was
hauling a load of apples to town,
and when half way up a steep hill
the endgato of his wagon camo out.
Neighbors who saw the accident
flocked to hear what he would say.
Gazing ruefully at the scattered ap
ples the man remarked in a choked
"Friends I have no language equal
to the occasion."
The best we could dp was to envy
the happy lot of John Iden's pigs.
To bed at 9 o'clock, tired and
happy. No noisy motor car rushing
by the house with clang of gong and
whir of motor. No noisy whistle
from the railroad yards. No night
hawk's wagon, steel tired, rumbling
over the streets. Nothing but the
chirp of crickets, the croaking of the
irogs and the occasional hoot of an
owl in the near-by woods. What
wonder, then, that the tired worker
who yearned for the sleep that re
fused to come when at home,
dropped off to slumber like a tired
child, and felt when John hammered
on the door at 5 o'clock next morn
ing that something was wrong with
But within fifteen minutes after
the call the expectant angler was in
his boat and rowing down to the
brush piles and the lily pads.
"Breakfast'll be ready at 7:30,"
"All right, but don't wait."
It was nearly 8 o'clock when the
angler beached his boat In front of
the farm house hotel. A hasty wash
and then breakfast. Now, for a man
whose usual breakfast is a piece of
dry toast and a cup of coffee, or a
couple of pancakes with coffee, what
do you think of a breakfast of fried
fish, crisp bacon, three eggs "sunny
side up," thick slabs of bread gen
erously covered with fresh country
butter, two cups of coffee and a
couple of wheat cakes floated in real
Filled with all these good things,
and likewise a fear of results, the
angler hiked again to the boat and
was once more off for the brush
piles and lily pads. Back to dinner
at 1, then off again to new fishing
grounds with an afternoon under the
clear sky, with the cool breezes
wandering by and the fish biting
O, it was great fun. The cobwebs
disappeared from the brain, the
lungs filled up with fresh air, tho
blood went pounding through tho
veins with renewed vigor, and every
care was forgotten in tho tcuso ex
citement of tho glorious sport and
Back to the farm house hotel in
the twilight, and a hearty supper of
bass not more than an hour out of
the water, a long pull at the favorite
pipe on tho big front porch that
looks out over tho lake, and then to
bed to drop off to sleep before the
head had fairly made a dent in the
What If one did have to chase
back to the daily grind on tho early
morning train? The memory of the
one day would cheer many days of
ceaseless work and worry. Tho chat
with tho old friends of days long
gone, the companionship for a few
hours of tho "kid" brother who has
girls of his own who aro budding
into womanhood, tho renewed ac
quaintance with old scenes it was
worth double the cost, ayo many,
many times the cost.
"Right over there by that bunch
of lilypads I got a five pound bass
last week," cried Jim Bunker, who
was rowing by.
So over you go, drop anchor and
begin casting at the lilypads. Noth
ing doing. You move over a few
rods and cast again. Nothing doing.
Who can describe the fierce strike
of tho black bass? Who can de
scribe the sensation that thrills the
fisherman when he hears the reel
sing and sees the steel rod in his
hand bend and sway as tho gamoy
old bass tries every trick known to
the finny tribe to outwit tho mere
man at tho other end of the rod?
Tho. angler comes up standing,
thumb on the reel, and eye on the
line to see that old Mr. Bass doe3
not get into the pads and foul the
line beyond all hope of recovery.
Splash! There, he broke water, his
gleaming sides quivering with rage
as he strikes to shake tho hook from
his mouth. Down to tho bottom ho
goes and it takes a quick turn and
a wide sweep of the rod to keep the
line from fouling under the boat.
There he goes, and the reel fairly
hums. Now ho'rests, and slowly
you toll him along with the reel,
careful to keep the line taut but
ready to let it go the minute he
starts to pull away. Back and forth,
in and out, up and down so the
contest goes on until at lapt Mr.
Bass comes slowly to the sido of tho
boat. Then you shift the rod to rho
other hand, stoop and reach for the
landing net and swish, away he
goes again and tho contest is on
once more. But finally you get the
net under him and a moment later
he is flopping in the bottom of the
Four pounds if an ounce:
"Told you you'd get 'em over
there," grinned Jim when you land
ed at the bouse in the evening.
Yes, tho one catch was worth the
trip. But beside that one you
caught some others, not so large but
still capable of putting up a good
fight. And croppie and pike and an
occasional channel cat and oodles
of "shiners" that are absolutely
worthless, even as fertilizer.
Only one day, but It was a; day
that shook off a dozen of the ac
cumulated years, and sent the angler
back to work feeling fit and fine. A
man simply can not afford to not
lay off for at least a day now and
then, and spend It In the woods or
on the water far from the madding
So here's to the one day off, and
may the time soon come when every
toiler will be able to take at least
the one day without knowing that
the loss of the one day's wage means
privation for months.
The pay is good, th work congenial, aad prcmo.
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